New research reveals those on low incomes may be missing out on vital financial support at time of welfare reform

As extensive debate around welfare reform continues, new research published by Turn2us, part of national charity Elizabeth Finn Care, has found that those who could be in most need of financial help are not accessing the support potentially available to them. The findings also suggest that the current changes to benefits could further deter people from making a claim.

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The results reveal that over three-quarters (78%) of people on low incomes who are currently not claiming any means-tested benefits* do not think they would be entitled to any support. This is despite the fact that over a fifth (22%) had experienced a decrease in income over the past year, and over one in ten (11%) had seen a reduction in their working hours. Worryingly, over a third (34%) said they were either unlikely to check their benefits entitlements should a major change in their circumstances occur in the future, or unsure if they would do so.

Interestingly, over two-thirds (70%) of those surveyed are aware of the significant changes to the welfare benefits system taking place. Yet the results indicate that these changes could discourage non-claimants from applying, with nearly half (48%) of these respondents believing it will be harder for people to make a claim, and over two-fifths (42%) believing that claimants will be worse off financially, once the changes have taken effect.

Turn2us is running its third annual Benefits Awareness Month campaign during April to raise awareness of the welfare benefits changes and also to encourage anyone who may be struggling financially to check what support could be available to them.

The campaign website – www.benefitsawareness.org.uk – features a free and easy-to-use Benefits Calculator that allows users to work out which welfare benefits and tax credits they might be entitled to, possible amounts they might receive and how to make a claim.

The website also contains clear factsheets with up to date information about the benefits changes, with details on who will be affected, and when.

Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us said: “More than ever before, welfare benefits are being subjected to extensive political and media debate, and as the changes are coming in to effect, we know it is a confusing and uncertain time for those already claiming and those unsure if they are eligible or whether to make a claim.

Yet we also know that over £19 billion in welfare benefits still goes unclaimed every year, and it is vital that at this time of change, people in financial need are not deterred from accessing the support available to them. It’s worthwhile anyone who is struggling financially doing a quick benefits check, especially if they’ve recently experienced a change in circumstances which could affect their entitlements.”

Benefits Awareness Month is being supported by a number of charities and organisations across the UK who are helping to raise awareness of how people can access all they’re entitled to and the information available for anyone affected by welfare changes.

The campaign runs until 30th April 2013. For more information, please visit www.benefitsawareness.org.uk.

-ENDS-

For more information and interviews with Turn2us case studies or spokespeople, please contact: Emma Lamberton, Press & Campaigns Officer

Email: Emma.Lamberton@elizabethfinn.org.uk Telephone: 0208 834 9259

Notes to Editors

*Research was undertaken in March 2013 by Research Now. The total sample size was 1,014 adults with an annual household income of £20,000 or less before taxes and deductions who are currently not claiming any of the following benefits: Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit.

For its Benefits Awareness Month campaign, Turn2us is working in partnership with organisations including: Advice Derbyshire, Advice UK, Bank Workers Charity, Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association, Child Poverty Action Group, Family Fund, Family Lives, Foundations, Gingerbread, Home-Start, Jig-So Ceredigion, Musicians Benevolent Fund, National Association of Student Money Advisers, Pennysmart, Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, Royal Association for Deaf People, Save the Children, Transact, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust.

About Turn2us

  • Turn2us is part of the national charity Elizabeth Finn Care.
  • Turn2us helps people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help – online, by phone and face-to-face through our partner organisations.
  • The Turn2us free, accessible website - www.turn2us.org.uk is designed to help people access the money available to them – through welfare benefits, charitable grants and other help.
  • The website has a number of tools to make the process simpler, including a Grants Search, Benefits Calculator and ‘find an adviser’ tool to help locate someone to speak to.
  • Turn2us works in partnership with organisations across the UK, including AdviceUK, Association of Charitable Organisations, Citizens Advice, Child Poverty Action Group, Home-Start UK and Money Advice Trust to develop our services and reach the many millions of people that need our help.

 

About Elizabeth Finn Care

  • Elizabeth Finn Care is a charity registered in England and Wales: 207812 and Scotland: SC040987.
  • Elizabeth Finn Care is a national charity that helps people in financial need to improve their lives.
  • Elizabeth Finn Care gives direct financial support to people from over 120 occupational backgrounds, and through Turn2us helps millions more people in the UK to access the money available to them through welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help.
  • Since being founded in 1897, Elizabeth Finn Care has given away over £130m in direct financial assistance to people in need. In 2011/2012 over 5,000 British and Irish citizens and residents received grants totalling over £4m from Elizabeth Finn Care.